“It is African involuntary aid that continues to keep the economies of many former European colonies afloat.”
Gangsters are adept at convincing you of your binding need for their protection, to guard against impending perils, largely of their own creation. It is a service that comes at a price, of course. And usually paid for in recurrent fashion. It is an offer you dare not refuse, since they are sure to “whack” you should you decline their protection services. Besides being an impeccable self-fulfilling prophesy, that strategy must rank as an original, albeit bizarre, model of supply side economics.
Regardless of who adopted the strategy from whom, imperial and settler governments have employed that strategy of protection racketeering, plunder along with recurrent fees, as indispensable for the success of their undertakings. Imperial and colonial settler societies continue to use gangster tactics without inviting much attention or censure, especially in their relationships with other nations they view as puny or whose citizens they regard as inferior. To this day such modus operandi hardly receives serious domestic denunciation in the imperial or colonial metropolis, since they enjoy fabricated popular mandates per “democracy at work” at home. Besides, the very organ that should hold governments to account --- the mainstream version of the Fourth Estate -- is at the frontline of cheerleading the twin acts of theft and deadly mayhem in distant lands committed in the name of their citizens and lies masquerading as noble principles. They are the flagbearers of a formidable propaganda front in the service of Empire, one that effectively mesmerizes its constituents into accepting a fictional munificence and an deceptive nobility of the imperial cause.
“Imperial and settler governments have employed the strategy of protection racketeering, plunder along with recurrent fees, as indispensable for the success of their undertakings.”
Colonial and imperialist ventures of modern times can be – and should be, legitimately viewed and analyzed in the larger hoodlum framework. The two entities (imperialism and gangsterism) share a common precept: that colonial subjects deemed inferior have an imagined, intrinsic need to be saved from themselves – hence the opportune emergence of protection rackets that came to be known as colonialism, which in essence was a guise for unrestrained capitalism, wanton theft and murder. The rationale for the finagled need is given credence by the colonizers by first labeling the colonized “savages.” Savages are deemed incapable of discerning what is good for themselves. It therefore behooved the “civilized” barbarians of Europe to embark on a salvation project for the colonized. The protection payoff, again in recurrent fashion, is unlimited access to the vast resources and free labor in colonized lands for the express purpose of enriching the colonizers who then quickly return to their colonial possessions to peddle their processed and repackaged merchandise at exorbitant profits and to be paid in their currencies, all courtesy of those perceived savages regarded as undeserving of such blessings.
“A country whose citizens were once labeled ‘monkeys’ by their American colonizers is now one that is targeted for ‘protection.’”
That the protection racket is alive and well is amply demonstrated by a recent barefaced statement by America’s Secretary of State that America will protect the Philippines from the Chinese threat. The Philippines was a country once “sold” by one mobster country, Spain, to another, the US. The transaction excluded the Filipinos. An ensuing anti-colonial resistance war against American rule led to an estimated 200,000 Filipinos dead. A country whose citizens were once labeled “monkeys” by their American colonizers is now one that is targeted for “protection.” Do Libya and Syria sound familiar?
Mafia dons are also known to confer with each other in solemn meetings from time to time when turf and merchandise wars spin out of control. These meetings would reach agreement on territorial delineations and merchandise distribution to usher in an interlude of peace until the next war erupts. In true Mafia style, European colonial gangsters held their infamous meeting in Berlin in 1884 – 85 convened by the then German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. This gathering was prompted by mounting rivalries between European powers – Britain and France were at each other’s throats at about that time. Respective countries carved out their African chosen lands in conference halls in Berlin – naturally in the absence of Africans themselves. The meeting drew haphazard boundaries of coveted colonies with no regard to local and cultural demarcations that represented over 1000 indigenous languages, cultures and regions. The meeting for the “Scramble for Africa” was to formalize a process that had already been set in motion. The result: the random creation of some 50 countries with muddled results. African countries along with their internal incongruities fashioned by colonial powers survive to this day, often enduring costly secession and civil wars or bitter ethnic rivalries in which winner-take-all constitutes an overriding economic blueprint.
“Countries carved out their African chosen lands in conference halls in Berlin – naturally in the absence of Africans themselves.”
White conquerors have shrewdly crafted some semblance of diversity in their modes of colonial and imperial operations. The British invented a post-colonial concept designed to keep the colonized firmly shackled to the royal colonial yoke: the British Commonwealth. Former colonies, with minor exceptions, convinced that their hard-earned independence was for real, saw no harm in accepting a figurative White monarch in faraway England as head of that organization, a status quo that remains to this day. Post-colonial Anglican Christians also defer to that same figure as head of their Church. In other words, former colonial subjects were being unwittingly forced into a straitjacket to keep them fastened economically and spiritually to their former colonial masters. A masterstroke in ensuring continued loyalty and fealty.
A band of handpicked local elites molded by colonial powers provided a useful front for their colonial bosses to advance the colonial agenda. In Kenya, these were known as the “Home Guards.” They often betrayed their own brethren who joined the anti-colonial struggles, causing their arrest or violent deaths. On occasion, some member states of the Commonwealth are suspended from the organization for a variety of reasons. Importantly, on no occasion have member states proposed the ouster of Britain herself from that organization for its participation in the rape and mass murder in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria. This neocolonial tool is used to keep the old dependencies alive, with the cheerful collusion of leaders of former colonies. Thus, the surrender of sovereignty by former colonial subjects is making a mockery of the sacrifices made in the armed resistance against the abuses of colonial rule. In many instances, the very leaders who were at the frontlines of the anti-colonial resistance became front men in accepting their status as inferior partners with former colonial lords.
“The British Commonwealth is used to keep the old dependencies alive, with the cheerful collusion of leaders of former colonies.”
Naïve as this may appear, post-colonial -- better still, neocolonial -- identities were being molded out of former colonial subjects to keep the old lopsided affiliations between victor and vanquished intact. The latter’s inherited educational system ensured that the relationships between former colonizers and colonized would continue along the prescribed serf-master lines. Noteworthy is that during the transition to independence following “constitutional conferences,” white kinship ties came to the fore, prompting Britain to seek special protection for their settler brethren. In the case of Zimbabwe, under the Independence Constitution agreed upon, 20 per cent of the seats in the country's parliament were to be reserved for Whites who comprised a mere 8% of the population at the time. Margaret Thatcher's government was largely interested in protecting the property rights of the white minority rather than the colonized, dispossessed and impoverished majority. Her foreign secretary, Lord Carrington, insisted Zimbabwe's new constitution include a 10-year ban on the forcible redistribution of the farms. The rest is now history.
The French came up with a shrewd model of colonialism, “assimilation.” On paper, this approach ostensibly drew inspiration from the French revolution -- freedom, equality and fraternity, one that should apply to anyone who was rendered French, regardless of race or color… The reality was quite different. The French “mission civilisatrice” as the pivot for assimilation was based on notions of French superiority and whose duty it was to civilize the “barbarians” they encountered and turn them into Frenchmen. This act of imperial projection of god-like powers onto a vanquished people via attempts by colonizers to re-create their wretched victims in their own image is very much a part of the present ongoing global acculturation by the West led by the US. It is a mission based on a lie: that of the equitable sharing the benefits of civilization. Ramming neoliberal economic models down the throats of poor countries to unleash unprecedented consumerism across the planet with unidirectional cash flow to the imperial metropolis is much closer to the truth. And in true Mafia tradition, the model is fraught with offers that the weak simply dare not refuse. Or refuse at their peril, as Cuba, Vietnam, Chile, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Libya, Iraq, Thomas Sankara’s Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Syria were to discover at a devastating price. The Mafia style brutality in colonial powers that visited the colonized proceeded with zero compassion for those who came under their rule.
“The French ‘mission civilisatrice’ as the pivot for assimilation was based on notions of French superiority.”
To crown it all, the French conceived a blatantly Mafiaesque extortionist plan for her former African colonies designed to keep them enslaved and impoverished while keeping France affluent riding on the backs of former colonial subjects: charging “colonial tax” to 14 African countries. This tax continues to be imposed as compensation for the “benefits” of French colonial rule. The gangster analogies get even more apt. Those that opt out of this egregious practice by declaring independence from France, as did Guinea under Ahmed Sékou Touré in 1958, were left completely rundown. Anything that could not be taken by the departing French, including schools, nurseries and public administration buildings were leveled. Foodstuffs in warehouses were burnt or poisoned and livestock killed. Many decades later, racist American soldiers during the invasion of Iraq were to loot priceless artifacts from Iraqi museums and jewelry from private homes, leaving a once prosperous country in tatters.
Former French colonies that showed the slightest signs of restlessness would invite direct military intervention, assassination of heads of state, or furtive coup de tats engineered, election rigging and the business of French extortion put back on track. Over $500 billion of these impoverished nations’ funds would end up in French coffers. As Chris Lehman of nsnbc.me once noted (2012) succinctly: “Feeding France, Bleeding Africa.” A former President of France Jacques Chiraq once stated that without this involuntary largesse from Africa, France’s economy would be no different from that of many third world countries. In fact, absent theft of African natural resources by capitalist sharks protected by Western governments, African economies would be quite robust. The unstated fact is that contrary to popularly held beliefs that Africans depend on Western handouts for their subsistence and survival, it is African involuntary aid that continues to keep the economies of many former European colonies afloat. But before that, Algeria’s war of independence cost that country some 2 million dead, many meeting their deaths in extremely gruesome fashion.
“A former President of France Jacques Chiraq once stated that without this involuntary largesse from Africa, France’s economy would be no different from that of many third world countries.”
Such has been the history of the West in their relations with the rest. That white Western “democracies” are in fact gangster nations in their dealings with peoples rendered inferior is beyond dispute. Any meaningful perspectives and analyses of imperialist machinations in poor countries might be better served by integrating the gangster framework in any discourse on the subject. During the armed resistance to colonial rule, independent African countries displayed unprecedented solidarity with their brethren still under colonial rule. The material support, along with support from the West’s pet pariah nations, Cuba, the then Soviet Union and Communist China, among others, dramatically changed the course of colonial rule. Add to that, most independent African countries severed diplomatic ties with Britain because of her inaction to rein in Ian Smith’s infamous unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) for Rhodesia, later to be renamed Zimbabwe. That solidarity no doubt hastened the independence of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and later South Africa in ridding itself of apartheid rule. African countries also severed diplomatic relations with Zionist Israel when that country’s armed forces occupied territory belonging to a fellow African country, Egypt.
“The African Union is much too weak and cowardly to pose any threat to the ongoing pillage of the continent.”
Lessons to be drawn from the obvious thuggery posing as philanthropy and racism hiding beneath a mask moral righteousness are many and varied. But significantly, the induced sense of feebleness must be integral to the continuing control by imperial powers over the majority of humanity. One would think that to commiserate and collaborate with racists is to embolden them. With the virtual demise of the non-aligned movement, no other platforms exist where unified voices against racist exploitation and domination can be expressed. The African Union is much too weak and cowardly to pose any threat to the ongoing pillage of the continent and the furtive American military occupation under the guise of the War on Terror.
A collective, united front against racism and the attendant economic serfdom, in whatever form manifested has no substitute in ushering a new dawn of true freedom and equality. Absent that, such terms will remain catchphrases of dreams never to be fulfilled as empires of theft and bigotry continue to divide and ruin. The epoch of imperial and neocolonial mobster rule and domination is far from over. If the Jewish cries of “never again” are made to resonate, worse instances of genocide and dispossession in the interactions between the white Western and the colored worlds will continue to be consigned to the trash bins of history. Unless of course, such voices find loud, clear and unbending expression by Fanon’s wretched of the earth. To expect the racist imperative to dispel as a matter of historical certainty is to be naïve in the extreme. No less naïve than expecting that feeble marches expressing outrage at the shooting of unarmed African Americans by racist cops would contain these crimes. White power has regarded people of color with suspicion and loathing through much of the recorded history of encounters between the two groups. It is time for racist conditioning to be called for what it is with the aim of neutralizing it and rendering it futile in international relations. But that will require courage and determination that are sorely lacking in designated “shithole” societies; for now, they may remain little more than far-fetched yearnings.
Dr. Kweli Nzito is a retired scientist now living in the Philippines